Tallapaka Annamacharya, also known as Annamaya, was a Telugu poet, singer, musician, composer who lived in the 15th Century. In addition to being all of those, he was an ardent devotee of the Hindu god Lord Venkateshwara and he was also one of the first persons to oppose social evils such as the practice of untouchability. His music continues to enthrall music enthusiasts and plays a major role in Carnatic music. Here’s a glimpse into the life of the literary giant.
1. The Immense Number of Keerthanas:
He is said to have written over 32,000 keerthanas in praise of Lord Venkateshwara. Out of these, about 12,000 are known now.
2. The Godfather of Telugu Songs:
This might sound like a name of some Hollywood movie but he actually had the title of Andhra Pada Kavita Pitamaha, which means ‘The Godfather of Telugu Song-Writing’.
3. Music Missing for over 4 Centuries:
His music went missing for over 400 years and were found written on copper plates, in a hidden room opposite the Hundi in the Tirumala temple in the 19th Century.
4. Much Ahead of Times:
He was one of the very few people to oppose the social stigma towards untouchable castes and he even wrote songs against the caste system; though he was a Brahmin himself.
5. Ahead of Times, Continued:
In an era where women were not allowed to pursue anything, he encouraged his wife Timmakka to pursue writing and she wrote Subhadra Kalyanam. Timmakka is considered to be the first female Telugu poet.
6. Capturing the Romance of the Gods:
Many of his early Keerthanas have a Shringara (romantic) theme and they talk about the romance between Lord Venkateshwara and his consort Alamelu.
7. Palm Leaves to Immortal Copper:
While he wrote his Keerthanas on palm leaves, his son Tirumalacharya got them engraved on copper plates.
8. Revival of His Music:
Of the 12,000 songs that he composed, 800 were set to tune by the legendary carnatic singer Dr. M Balamuralikrishna.
9. His Biography:
It is said that his life was documented by his grandson, Chinnanna and it is only through his writings that we now know about the life of Annamayya.
10. Pioneer of the Keerthana Music Form:
He is the earliest known Indian musician to have composed in the Keerthana form of music.